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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all! This is my first post, so let me introduce myself, I'm 24 year old male, 5'7", 150 lbs who recently started biking again for probably the first time in 10 years. I've been riding my mountain bike, and my fathers old 70's Austro Daimler Ultima to work and around town, and have gotten the urge to get a road bike that fits me well (the AD is too long) and really try to get into the sport, at least for some extended rides, if not a race or maybe a short tour. So for the last week, instead of doing homework or studying (oops!) I've been researching bikes and companies and reading lots of posts on this website.

I recently tried a Bianchi and a Fuji at a LBS, but wasn't impressed. I especially didn't like the Shimmano Sora shifters, and after reading posts here I think it'd be worth the extra money to buy something with at least Tiagra components.

Today I went to the local Cannondale and Giant dealer. I wanted to look at the CAAD9 and Synapse bikes, probably the CAAD9-6 and Synapse-5 because of the upgraded Tiagra vs Sora on the chaper version of each bike. The shop owner steered me away from the Synapse, saying that a guy my age would probably prefer the CAAD9 for the more aggressive geometry. That sounded like good news to me since the CAAD9-6 is $1119 vs $1329 for the Synapse-5.

He also found a Giant TCR Aero 2 in the warehouse that was a couple years old but still new. It was set up w/o aero bars and had regular road bars. I took both out for a couple short rides around the block, and I can sum up the differences like this:

The CAAD9 had a longer reach than the TCR Aero 2, which I think might be better for me since my upper body is longer than my legs. It was a nice ride, I like the look of the frame better. It has cheaper Tiagra components, but the frame is made in the U.S. which is a big plus for me. The shop owner also told me the derailers probably needed to be reset-up before it sold (they weren't working too well IMO), and the brakes were way too loose. The price tag says $1119.

The TCR Aero 2 had a shorter reach, does anyone ever own a frame like this for their first road bike? I don't know if I'm going to get into the sport this frame was designed for, or if it would be as comfortable for me. It does have the nicer 105 components, and shifted much smoother than the CAAD9-6, which may not have been set up right. The real benefit to this bike is it's age. The owner said he'd sell it to me for $995 which is the best deal I've found yet, especially with the 105 group.

I also asked the dealer how he fits bikes to people, and he said he basically just watches them ride and makes adjustments, sometimes he puts them on a stationary bike and makes tunings from there. From what I've been reading, the fit is the most important part, and I don't know if his style is really exact enough, does anyone have any thoughts? He set the seat height too low on the Giant at first till I said something.

I really don't want to spend more than $1300, and I haven't really tallied up the cost of everything else I'd need like a computer, shorts, a good helmet, etc.

So I'm asking for any input anyone might have, I'd be very interested to hear it!

Thanks in advance,

Sam
 

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Make sure the bike you buy has normal drop road bars and not time trial bars.

The CAAD 9 is a decent bike. I would recommend it over the TT-specific frame because the geometry will be slightly different. The CAAD looks moderately over priced to me if it's got Tiagra. See if you can talk him down, or get him to throw in a helmet, shoes, etc with the bike.
 

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Go find another bike shop. Seriously. First, the guy steers you away from a bike you express interest in (why, doesn't he have one?), then he pulls out a two year old 'new' bike that clearly doesn't suite your needs. But all that pales in comparison to the 'cursory fit' (yes, that's what it's called) that he described to you.

Given your stated uses, I think the Synapse would be a good choice for extended rides because of its slightly relaxed geo. It would be ok for racing, but the CAAD9 might have an edge there. Depends on where you r priorities are. Both would be ok for short tours as well. If possible, take a look the Specialized Allez.

IMO you're smart to make Tiagra the group of choice in your price range. The shifters alone are far superior to the Sora's.

Last but not least (as you mentioned) fit matters most, so find a bike shop with a knowledgeable fitter and buy the bike that fits and feels the best. And don't buy based on price alone, because a bargain isn't a bargain if the bike doesn't get used.
 

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The CAAD9 is definitely overpriced. If I remember correctly, which I think I do, the shop here that sells them was asking 950, 1050, and 1200 for the 7, 6, and 5, respectively. And this is a shop that often has 10% off sales, including new bikes. If they (not a huge shop) can part with a CAAD9 6 for 950 bucks (assuming you go during a sale), then I think he can come down on his price.

If he didn't even give the bike a quick tune-up to make sure the deraillers were working, I think you should at least take a look elsewhere. Everywhere I went while shopping for a bike did at least that.
 

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It would behoove you greatly to look at PedalForce's group buys. Not sure if they have one right now, but recently you could've gotten a carbon frame + fork + Force gruppo for $1200.00. They had another one in January with a BB30 frame that had the $800 FSA BB30 crankset as an add-on for $300 if you bought the frame.

For a first bike, there is no reason *not* to buy used or from a smaller-name manufaturer. (See: PedalForce, Neuvation, Fetish Cycles, Blue Cycles).
 

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I don't want to start a new thread just to say this but...

I'm also looking to buy my first road bike...and it is just giving me a headache. lol
 

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Xanlact said:
I don't want to start a new thread just to say this but...

I'm also looking to buy my first road bike...and it is just giving me a headache. lol
Oh, go ahead and start a new thread. They're free!! :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replys guys, I couldn't have wished for better responses.

I went to another local bike shop today, and the guy who specializes in road bikes was out for the day, but they say he has a full "kit-fit" set up and takes all the measurements and all that good stuff. The down side is that they only sell Trek bikes, and they can get Gary Fisher, but they don't have any in stock. The Gary Fisher entry model is $950 and has full Tiagra components, but with him not having any in stock, its a hard bet to take a gamble and buy a bike like that.

Anyway, I gotta get to work, I'll check back later.
 

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I've been very happy with my Jamis Ventura, which I bought last July for $950. I got the Race model -- 105 components, carbon monostay and fork, weighs under 20 lbs. I think the msrp was higher (their website shows $1300 for an '09 on that model), but they made me a deal. The bike has gotten great reviews from national magazines over the last couple of years as far as bang for the buck, for what that is worth. I've put about 1500 miles on it w/ no problems at all.

Keep in mind that if you don't have much, you'll spend a lot more on gear than you think you will. Of course, you can spread it out over a year or two, but it gets expensive.
 

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Not to hijack the thread, but I too am new to road biking and am in the market for a solid entry level bike. Because costs are a consideration, I'm going to purchase online from bikesdirect.com. (Or another site?) I understand the controversy some people see in this, but I'm a fix-it kinda person and have many friends who bike who will gladly help me with assembly and fitting. And I refuse to pay inflated LBS prices.

Anyway, to the point: I'm considering these two options...

1. Windsor Wellington 2.0
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/wellington2_IX.htm

2. DawesLightning1500
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/lt1500.htm

Now, my issues are as follows: I was sized as a 56 on a trek bike at the local LBS. Dawes has a kind of wonky sizing system. I am on the border, being 5'9.5'' with an inseam of 32"--long legs, short torso.
Question 1: Which bike would you go with? Is the step up in price for the lt5000 worth it in terms of investment?
Question 2: Would the Wellington 2.0 be sufficient for spring/summer/parts of fall biking 2-3 times a week? I live in MN and biking weather is limited to say the least.
Question 3: What size would you choose if you were in my position (for the dawes lt5000)?

Thanks in advance to anyone who has any insight to offer--this forum has been a wealth of information for me and I plan on participating more actively when I start to get into cycling.

Sean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sean, for what it's worth, I'm 5'7" and all the LBS' I have been to have been putting my on 52 - 54 cm frames. A 56 cm might be fine, but maybe you'd want to go a little larger. A trip to a LBS just to see what fits might help, but you have to take the differences in geometry of the bikes you are comparing into consideration. A 56 cm might be right with one model, while it may be too small with a different model.

Also, I would highly recommend checking out a bike with Sora shifters at a store before you order a bike with them. I hate them, you can't shift in both directions from the drops unless your thumbs are about 6" long...

About ordering online, I have considered it, but I just want to get it right the first time, and I want to find a LBS that will work with me on fit and will treat me right. On that note, I recently visited a shop that I really like. The bike I'm interested in is the Scott Speedster S40, which has full Tiagra components, and the salesman said I could buy one for about $1000, which is about $150 off list I believe, and is the cheapest bike I can find with components I will accept.

The salesman says he doesn't have a proper fit-kit, but that he's been fitting people on bikes for 40 years, and that he's pretty good at it. He says he'll set up an appointment with me to come in before the store opens so he can fit me on his trainer in the shop. A friend of mine whom I work with has been going to this store for a couple of years and has nothing but good things to say, so I'm feeling pretty confident.

Actually, I did see a 2007 Trek Pilot 2.1 with 105 components for $1050 now that I think about it, but it's at a different shop and I haven't been able to come in on days when their road bike guy is in.

Does anyone know anything about the Scott bikes? Do they get a thumbs up or a thumbs down? How about the Trek Pilot 2.1? Are these bikes the same style? Is the Pilot 2.1 the older version of the current 2.1 (probably the 2.3 akshully...), did they just drop "Pilot" from the name?
 

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poptart-on-rye said:
Does anyone know anything about the Scott bikes? Do they get a thumbs up or a thumbs down?
Some sources:
A little dated, but some useful info:
http://www.roadbikereview.com/mfr/scott/road-bike/PRD_403944_5668crx.aspx

http://www.buzzillions.com/dz_295231_scott_usa_speedster_s20_cd_reviews

http://www.bicycling.com/article/1,6610,s1-1-383-16780-1,00.html

poptart-on-rye said:
How about the Trek Pilot 2.1? Are these bikes the same style? Is the Pilot 2.1 the older version of the current 2.1 (probably the 2.3 akshully...), did they just drop "Pilot" from the name?
The Pilot is not the same style as either the S20 or current 2.x series. The geo is more relaxed with (among other things) a longer wheelbase, contributing to slower/ more predictable handling - depending on your perspective. I'm commenting from memory, because for some reason Trek doesn't include geo with their archived bike stats.

I suspect if you like the way the S20 and/ or 2.1 handles, you won't be thrilled with the Pilot. JMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the replies PJ, they have been very helpful. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the Speedster, but now my dilemma is whether to get the S40 with Tiagra, or wait to save some more money and get the S30 with 105...
 

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poptart-on-rye said:
Thanks for the replies PJ, they have been very helpful. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the Speedster, but now my dilemma is whether to get the S40 with Tiagra, or wait to save some more money and get the S30 with 105...
Those two models are much more alike than they are different. I don't know the difference in price, but IME the upgrade from 9 spd to 10 spd is negligible. I upgraded to 10 spd last year and the biggest difference I saw was that I shifted a little more. :)

You mentioned fit in an earlier post (very important), but not a test ride, so make sure you get fitted to the bike and go for a test ride that'll resemble the type(s) of riding you plan on doing. Liking the looks of a bike (no matter the brand/ model) is important, but being comfortable with the fit/ ride/ handling will keep you riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have taken the frame out for a test ride, the one I was on seemed a little long, but that aside I was very happy with it. Of the bikes I have taken out, a Fuji Newest, a Bianchi, which I can't remember which model it was, the CAAD9 and the Giant TCR Aero 2, I liked the CAAD9 and the Speedster frame the best.

However, my only experience to compare either to is with my old 70's steel road bike which is too big, not much to compare it too. I live in Michigan where it's very flat, I'm never really quite sure to be paying attention to on a test ride, but I do like the feel of the Speedster.

The big difference to me between the Tiagra and the 105 isn't exactly the 9 to 10 speed, but rather the challenges that difference creates. I won't easily be able to upgrade a Tiagra part at a later date with a 105 or nicer part because they aren't compatible, and I'll have to buy several parts at a time to make it work. For example, the 10 speed 105 shifters won't work with the Tiagra 9 speed rear derailer.
 

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When you say the Speedsters fit 'seemed a bit long', I'm assuming you mean reach (to the bars). If that's the case, work with the LBS to shorten the reach by installing a shorter stem. It's done all the time, so you're not asking for anything special. And IMO a good bike shop does this as part of a pre test ride fit.

One thing to keep in mind. Although you're coming from a too big 70's road bike, that just feels right fit won't escape you, so don't commit to a purchase before you experience it! :) There are lots of quality bikes in your price range, one of which is the Specialized Allez, so (JMO) take your time with this.

On the subject of 9 to 10 speed upgrade, aspects of what you say are true, but with proper maintenance it's going to be years and thousands of miles before you'd need to start replacing components other than chains, and theyll be readily available. I'm not trying to dissuade you from initially going to 10 speed, just offering another side. And IMO the fit issue is more important, so go slow, make the venture fun and make the bike shops earn the sale. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks PJ, I'm definitely taking my time. I think I may have found a buyer for my motorcycle (eek!) so my budget may have jumped... if I can part with it that is, haha..

Being that I'm in Michigan, I want to do the DALMAC one day, maybe next year. The ride is ~400 miles over 4-5 days depending on the round you take, do you think that the more race-like geometry could work for a ride like this? I'm still going to look more at other bikes like the Sequoia with more relaxed geometry as well.
 

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poptart-on-rye said:
Thanks PJ, I'm definitely taking my time. I think I may have found a buyer for my motorcycle (eek!) so my budget may have jumped... if I can part with it that is, haha..

Being that I'm in Michigan, I want to do the DALMAC one day, maybe next year. The ride is ~400 miles over 4-5 days depending on the round you take, do you think that the more race-like geometry could work for a ride like this? I'm still going to look more at other bikes like the Sequoia with more relaxed geometry as well.
Just so happens I sold my '99 Honda Magna a couple of months ago. No lie, it had about 1,500 miles on it - my Tarmac OTOH has about 3K on it in just one year! :eek:

The best way I can answer your question re: race like geo is to say if your fitness level allows it, you'll be fine riding for 4-5 days. It's all what you're used to and can tolerate, but the beauty of a drop bar bike is the number of positions to place your hands - important on the types of riding you mentioned. As an aside, I've been riding drop bar bikes since the mid 80's and have always had a moderate saddle to bar drop of about 5-6 CM's. So there's no right or wrong, just what's comfortable for you.

The Sequoia is another good choice, with more relaxed geo and a taller head tube for a more upright position. Ride a bunch and decide what feels right to you, but make sure they're more than just parking lot rides. Hit the road, put a few miles on each to really get a feel for the handling, and buy the one that you don't want to bring back. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ugh, finals are almost done, but I had most of the day off, so I hit up a few shops. I took out a really nice Specialized Roubaix, wow what a smooth ride, way too expensive. I took out a Sequoia but it was way too upright for my taste, the Allez Sport was great, I think it's my favorite so far. I went to another shop and took out a Jamis Ventura Race which might be my second favorite ride. Neither of the shops have the bikes I'm interested in my size in stock, but they're ordering a frame so I can try them, awesome! Finally I went back to the dealer with the Scott bike and rode it again, I've decided it's just too aggressive for me. While I want something moderately aggressive, I also want something I'll be comfortable on for a long time and I don't think the Speedster fits the bill.

The Allez felt sturdier, stiffer and seemed to accelerate faster than the Jamis Ventura, but was quite a bit softer than the Scott. This is probably because it had wider tires than the Scott. The Ventura's strengths were it's carbon seat stays for about an identical price to the Allez. The components seem to be about the same, except for the crank, the Specialized has the 105 compact, while the Ventura has FSA Vero compact, is there a big difference there? I think I'm leaning to the Allez, I just don't know which color I like..
 

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See? After some test rides you're starting to get in tune with what feels right to you. :thumbsup:

Since both the Allez and Ventura felt good, we can assume fit is at least close and focus on the specs. I took a quick look at both and (FWIW) here's my take on things. The Allez has a Shimano crank, but it's not 105. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, just clarifying for you. I do think it's a better crank than the FSA on the Ventura. OTOH, the Ventura has a full CF fork, whereas the Allez has a CF fork w/ alloy steerer, so the Ventura might hold a slight edge there. BUT, the Allez's Mavic wheelset (IMO) holds an edge over the formula's on the Ventura.

You mentioned the CF stays on the Ventura, so I will just offer my experiences with them. Frankly, I don't see where they add anything to the ride and I put them in a 'materials mix' category. That being a possibility of bonding failures somewhere (as in years) down the road. I don't want to come off as being critical of the Ventura, because I happen to think you're looking at two quality bikes here, but I wanted to give you all sides to think about.

Bottom line, though. As long as both fit and you enjoy riding them, you can't make a wrong or bad choice. If you're on the fence test ride both again, then decide.
 
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